Mississippi’s Dyslexia Scholarship program provides hope to families whose children are not receiving the support they need in their assigned, district schools. And at the same time, it saves taxpayer dollars.
During the first three years of the program, from 2013 through 2015, it saved taxpayers $1.4 million, or about $6,500 for every child that received the scholarship. This is according to a new study from EdChoice. In 2013, the savings totaled $204,536, in 2014, the savings increased to $458,296, and in 2015, the savings were up to $780,497.
In 2012, the Dyslexia Scholarship became Mississippi’s first private school choice program, providing a scholarship to students with dyslexia equal to the base student costs of educating a child in Mississippi. For the first three years, that ranged from $4,400 to $4,700.
This program is wildly popular among participants, growing from 32 in 2013 to 237 today. Still, there are major limitations to the program that have prevented it from reaching all that it was designed for. To participate, a private school must be accredited by the state. Therefore, the numerous private schools that provide dyslexia therapy services, but are instead accredited by other associations, are not allowed to participate.
On numerous occasions, parts of families have been uprooted so their children could attend a school like the 3-D School in Petal while another member of the family stays home to work.
Two years ago, the legislature debated, and the Senate passed, a bill that would have expanded the program to all accredited private schools who meet the dyslexia therapy qualifications. But the House chose to go with a much narrower expansion, and many families still remain in the dark when it comes to receiving the services their children need.